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Lima Starts 2016 with a Bang

By: Justin Felisko
January 19, 2016

Brazilian rider Paulo Lima captured last weekend's Buck Off at the Garden

Brazilian rider Paulo Lima captured last weekend’s Buck Off at the Garden

NEW YORK – Paulo Lima already has paid Robson Palermo for his old bull rope that he used to win the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, but he may think about giving Palermo an additional couple of bucks after winning $129,500 with it.

It is the second time the bull rope has helped a rider find success inside Madison Square Garden.

Palermo went 3-for-4 with the same rope to win the 2013 Built Ford Tough Series event in New York.

“He bought it from me and I told him his rope won here a couple of years ago and now you need to win,” Palermo said on Sunday. “I think I am going to take it back.”

Lima laughed when asked if he would give the winning bull rope back to Palermo or if he would give the three-time World Finals event winner a cut of his winnings.

“Maybe I am going to give him the rosin,” Lima replied with a smirk and the help of Palermo translating.

Palermo has had a strong eye on Lima’s rise to the No. 1 ranking in the world standings this year.

Lima, who went 4-for-4 in New York for the victory, earned a massive 725 world standings points and leads No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira by 295 points heading into this weekend’s Express Employment Professionals Invitational in Oklahoma City.

Palermo was at two of Lima’s first three BlueDEF Tour events this season when Lima began the year with six consecutive rides and two BlueDEF wins.

Lima will be competing in Oklahoma City as this weekend’s BlueDEF Tour event championship via his win in Ontario, California.

Palermo actually also finished second to Lima in Ontario.

“Going to the (BlueDEF) and Touring Pro, you build the confidence to come over here,” Palermo said. “I was impressed. I know he could do it because he has been riding great. He has been riding good on the (BlueDEF) and Touring Pro deal. I am very happy to see him do that.”

The two victories and six consecutive rides played a major role in Lima remaining committed to earning a spot full time on the BFTS.

Lima last competed on the BFTS for an entire season in 2011, when he finished 19th in the world standings and also won his last BFTS event (Milwaukee).

He had competed sparingly in the Touring Pro Division and BlueDEF Tour in the past three seasons and said during those years he would go back home when he wasn’t physically healthy or able to qualify for the BFTS.

Now, thanks to his PBR Major victory, he will more than likely not only stay on the BFTS full time, but also qualify for the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 2-6 in Las Vegas.

It would be his third time qualifying for the PBR’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.

“Every year, I come over here in the beginning and I tried and nothing happened,” Lima said. “I didn’t ride good and I would go back. This year, I came over here and did good. I am very happy to come over here this year, win this kind of money and start riding good.

“My goal is to keep riding like this and continue to ride all of my bulls. I will try to keep my head up and ride my bulls.”

Lima and 2004 World Champion Mike Lee lead the PBR in qualified rides at all levels (16) and riding percentage (69.57 percent) at all levels.

Still, it was unclear how Lima would perform once he competed on the BFTS this year.

On Sunday, Lima impressed Director of Livestock Cody Lambert and two-time World Champion Justin McBride.

Lambert said Lima’s decision to select $25,000 bonus bull Cochise in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round with the $100,000 event title on the line showed Lima was serious.

“He really wanted him and was serious about trying to win this event,” Lambert said.

The 28-year-old rode Cochise for 90 points to split the championship-round victory with Vieira (90 points on Time Bomb) and eventually win the PBR Major.

“I went to sleep thinking of this bull and I got up this morning thinking about this bull,” Lima said. “It is funny. (Robson Palermo and I) are sharing a room and we were arguing about who was going to get on Cochise in the short go.”

Lima rode Rough ‘em Up Tuck for 84.5 points in Round 1, Direct Deposit for 81.5 points in Round 2 and Dracula for 81 points in Round 3.

“He rode them all and made a great ride,” Lambert added. “That is the one the judges got right in the short round.”

McBride said, “Paulo Lima made the best ride of the night. I think he was tied for the high-score. If I was a judge, he would have won it flat out.”

Lima is the second consecutive alternate rider to win on the BFTS this year. Wallace de Oliveira won the season-opener in Chicago as the last alternate in the draw.

“That is what you got to do when you get your chance and take advantage of it,” McBride said. “Not only was it a Built Ford Tough event, but it was a Major on top of that, so everything was double money and points. I thought he did a great job.”

It is almost fitting Lima pulled off his stellar performance in New York City, where the Statue of Liberty serves as a symbol of hope and opportunity.

The Bezerros, Brazil, native has already earned a career-high $151,704.40 in the PBR this year and now can start to set his sights on chasing the $1 million bonus that will be awarded to the 2016 World Champion.

“New York City is a great city and has great people,” Lima said. “To win that much money is amazing. Every bull rider has a dream to win the World Championship. This is my goal too. I will leave it in God’s hands. Whatever he wants, I am going to do.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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